Tag Archives: current-events

Our Daily Bread — Genuine Concern

Our Daily Bread

Philippians 2:1-5

Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. —Philippians 2:4

On the first night at family camp, the camp director informed the families of the schedule for the week. When finished, he asked if anyone else had anything to say. A young girl stood up and made a passionate appeal for help. She shared about her little brother—a boy with special needs—and how he could be a challenge to care for. She talked about how tiring this was for her family, and she asked everyone there to help them keep an eye on him during the week. It was an appeal born out of genuine concern for her brother and her parents. As the week went on, it was great to see people pitching in to help this family.

Her appeal was a gentle reminder of how easily we can all get wrapped up in our own world, life, and problems—to the point that we fail to see the needs of others. Here’s how Paul described our responsibility: “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phil. 2:4). The next verse reminds us that this is part of the example of Christ: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”

Our caring displays a Christlike concern for people who are hurting. May we rest in God’s grace, trusting Him to enable us to serve others in their seasons of need. —Bill Crowder

Lord, open my eyes to the hurts, needs, and struggles

of a world that is so desperately in need of Your

love. Help me to be Your instrument to

inject that love into hurting lives.

Nothing costs as much as caring—except not caring.

Bible in a year: Ezekiel 14-15; James 2

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Commending Christ

Ravi Z

Author John Stackhouse describes apologetics as the Christian work of commending the faith as much as it is about defending the faith. Commending the faith, he argues, is something the Christian community does wherever it is—with one another, with neighbors, with the world. Consequently, it is also something the Christian community does whether they are aware of it or not.

In his sermon before the Areopagus, the apostle Paul commended the gospel with reason and rhetoric that would not have gone unrecognized. This is the “good news,” he professed, and the “good life” depends on it. To the Athenian philosophers, he commended the gospel in terms that mattered deeply to them. “Since we are God’s offspring,” he said quoting an Athenian poet, “we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals.”(1) For on the contrary, he told them, the real and present Deity is now calling people everywhere to turn around and come near.

The apostle then followed this bold notion with a proof that would have caused as much, if not more, commotion in first century Athens as in hyper-rational modernity and cynical post-modernity. We know that God is the true creator, sustainer, and friend, he reasoned, because God “has given this proof… by raising [Christ] from the dead.”(2) Paul is telling the story of God in the world here, but he is also telling his own story. This Deity he commends to the Athenian philosophers is the risen Christ who appeared to him on Damascus road, who became ‘friend’ instead of ‘foe,’ and turned his own philosophy and consequently his life around.

Paul’s use of the resurrection as proof of all he has proclaimed to the Athenians is interesting on several levels. To begin with, while the apostle clearly sought to ground his Mars Hill message on a common foundation, he ended with a proof that must have seemed to some like a foreign tidal wave. For the Athenians, resurrection of the body was absurd and unreasonable, as much of an obstacle to them as the scandalizing cross to men and women of Jerusalem. While the philosophers of the Areopagus may have believed in the immorality of the soul, the body was what confined and imprisoned this soul. In their minds, there was a radical distinction between matter and spirit. Bodily resurrection did not make any more sense than a god with a body! For the Athenians, and indeed for all of us, this very proof required a radical turn of heart, mind, soul, and body. For some, this babbler’s new teaching was immediately labeled absurd. When they heard of this resurrection of the dead, reports Luke, there were scoffs and sneers.

Yet Paul’s apologetic, which was carefully researched, powerfully worded, and respectfully delivered, was not here ending on a careless note. On the contrary, he was ending with the chorus itself. For Paul, all of the words uttered up until this point would merely be noise had they not come from this very refrain. For if Christ has not been raised, both preaching and faith itself is useless, as he said elsewhere. Though it would have been a foreign language to the crowd at the Areopagus, Paul commended the resurrection as the very proof of his apologetic—for the entirety of his message was authoritative only and specifically because the resurrection had indeed occurred. Authors Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon note the central task of commending the Gospel: “Our claim is not that this tradition will make sense to anyone or will enable the world to run more smoothly. Our claim is that it just happens to be true. This really is the way God is. This really is the way God’s world is.”(3) For Paul, and for the apologist, the important Christian act of finding common ground must never involve burying what is real and living: Christ is risen from the dead.

This single event is the theological core of Paul’s identity and his highest apologetic. It is also the very pillar which makes abundantly clear that the true work of apologetics does not belong to Christians. Writes Stackhouse, “Spiritual adepts throughout the ages warn us that mere argument accomplishes little even within our own hearts.”(4) No one knew this better than the apostle Paul, who would never have otherwise considered Jesus anything more than one to despise. The work of conversion belongs to the Holy Spirit.

Thus, there were many at the Areopagus that day who sneered at Paul’s philosophical conclusions. There were also many who responded in the same manner they responded to any teaching considered at the Areopagus—namely, with fascination, with discussion, and with barren hearts and minds. But likewise, there were a number who believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.(5) By the grace of God, the risen Christ was commended and the clamoring alternatives were overcome.

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

(1) Acts 17:29.

(2) Acts 17:31.

(3) Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon, Resident Aliens (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1989), 101.

(4) John Stackhouse, Jr. Humble Apologetics: Defending the Faith Today (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), 82.

(5) cf. Acts 17:34.

John MacArthur – Passing the Test

John MacArthur

“By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac; and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; it was he to whom it was said, ‘In Isaac your descendants shall be called.’ He considered that God is able to raise men even from the dead” (Heb. 11:17-19).

John Bunyan had a little blind daughter, for whom he had a special love. When he was imprisoned for preaching the gospel, he was deeply concerned about his family, especially that little girl. He wrote, “I saw in this condition I was a man who was pulling down his house upon the head of his wife and children. Yet, thought I, I must do it; I must do it. The dearest idol I have known, what ere that idol be, help me to tear it from Thy throne and worship only Thee.”

Despite his personal grief, Bunyan was willing to sacrifice the most precious thing he had, if God so willed. So it was with Abraham. Every promise God had made to him was bound up in his son Isaac.

Abraham believed God’s promises, and his faith was reckoned to him as righteousness (Gen. 15:6). But the moment of truth came when God instructed him to offer his son as a sacrifice. Abraham realized that to kill Isaac was to put to death God’s covenant. So he reasoned that surely God would raise Isaac from the dead. He believed in resurrection before the doctrine was revealed in clear terms.

God tested Abraham, and Abraham passed the test: He was willing to make the sacrifice. And that’s always the final standard of faith. Jesus said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matt. 16:24). Romans 12:1 says, “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”

I pray that you are willing to sacrifice whatever is necessary to minister most effectively for Christ.

Suggestions for Prayer:

Thank God for those you know who are passing the test of a sacrificial faith.

Pray for the courage and grace to follow their example.

For Further Study:

Read the account of Abraham’s test in Genesis 22.

 

 

Joyce Meyer – Be Careful What You Think

Joyce meyer

But his delight and desire are in the law of the Lord, and on His law (the precepts, the instructions, the teachings of God) he habitually meditates (ponders and studies) by day and by night. And he shall be like a tree firmly planted [and tended] by the streams of water, ready to bring forth its fruit in its season; its leaf also shall not fade or wither; and everything he does shall prosper [and come to maturity].

—Psalm 1:2–3

Your word have I laid up in my heart, that I might not sin against You…I will meditate on Your precepts and have respect to Your ways [the paths of life marked out by Your law].

—Psalm 119:11, 15

In the early days of computers, they used to say, “Garbage in, garbage out.” That was a way of explaining that the computer only worked with the data put into the machine. If we wanted different results, we needed to put in different information. With computers, most people have no trouble grasping that concept, but when it comes to their minds, they don’t seem to get it. Or perhaps they don’t want to get it.

So many things demand their attention and beg for their focus. They’re not just sinful things. The apostle Paul said that although everything was lawful for him, not everything was helpful (see 1 Corinthians 6:12).

If you are going to win the battle of the mind and defeat your enemy, where you focus your attention is crucial. The more you meditate on God’s Word, the stronger you’ll become and the more easily you’ll win the victories.

Too many Christians don’t realize the difference between meditating on the Bible and reading the Bible. They like to think that whenever they read God’s Word, they’re absorbing the deep things of God. Too often people will read a chapter of the Bible, and when they get to the last verse, they have little idea of what they’ve read. Those who meditate on God’s Word are those who think—and think seriously—about what they’re reading.

They may not put it in these words, but they are saying, “God, speak to me. Teach me. As I ponder Your Word, reveal its depth to me.”

Above, I quoted from Psalm 1. This psalm begins by defining the person who is blessed, and then points out the right actions of that person. The psalmist wrote that those who meditate—and do it day and night—are like productive trees…and everything they do shall prosper.

The psalmist made it quite clear that meditating on and thinking about God’s Word brings results. As you ponder who God is and what He’s saying to you, you’ll grow. It’s really that simple. Another way to put it is to say that whatever you focus on, you become. If you read about and allow your mind to focus on God’s love and power, that’s what operates in you.

The apostle Paul says it beautifully in Philippians 4:8: “…Whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them].”

It’s sad, but most Christians don’t put much effort into their study of the Word. They go to hear others teach and preach, and they may listen to sermon tapes and read the Bible occasionally, but they’re not dedicated to making God’s Word a major part of their lives.

Be careful what you think about. The more you think about good things, the better your life will seem. The more you think about Jesus Christ and the principles He taught, the more you become like Jesus and the stronger you grow. And as you grow, you win the battle for your mind.

Lord God, help me think about the things that honor You. Fill my life with a hunger for more of You and Your Word so that in everything I may prosper. I ask this through Jesus Christ. Amen.

From the book Battlefield of the Mind Devotional by Joyce Meyer. Copyright © 2006 by Joyce Meyer. Published by FaithWords. All rights reserved.

 

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – God Uses Sorrow for Good

dr_bright

“For God sometimes uses sorrow in our lives to help us turn away from sin and seek eternal life. We should never regret his sending it. But the sorrow of the man who is not a Christian is not the sorrow of true repentance and does not prevent eternal death.” (II Corinthians 7:10).

Frank often referred to himself proudly as a self-made man. He bragged that in his youth he had been so poor he didn’t have two nickels to rub together. Now his real estate holdings and various business enterprises were worth tens of millions of dollars. He was a pillar in the community, able to give generously to civic and philanthropic causes.  His philosophy was that there was no God, and every man had to make it on his own. He laughed at the weaklings who needed the crutch of church.

Then his world began to fall apart. His only son was sent to prison for pushing drugs. His daughter had an automobile accident that left her partially paralyzed for life; and his wife, whom he had largely ignored for years, announced she was in love with someone else and demanded a divorce. Meanwhile, because he had become lax in his business dealings, one of his partners embezzled several million dollars from him.

By this time, he was devastated, and, therefore, was open to spiritual counsel. After the Holy Spirit showed him his spirit of pride and selfishness, he opened his heart to Christ and the miracle took place. Now, he frequently quotes this passage: “God sometimes uses sorrow in our lives to help us turn away from sin and seek eternal life.”

Though his son is still in prison, and his daughter still paralyzed, he and his wife are reconciling, and his heart is filled with joy and thanksgiving to God. He is no longer a proud, “successful” businessman, but a humble child of God, a servant who discovered the hard way that everyone needs God.

For every Frank there are hundreds of others experiencing heartache and tragedy who have not repented. Yet, God offers to all men and women the priceless gift of abundant and supernatural life.

Bible Reading: Proverbs 28:12-14

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I shall seek to live the full, abundant, supernatural life, walking in faith and obedience, so that God will not find it necessary to discipline me in order to bless me.

 

Presidential Prayer Team; C.H. – Purposeful Gifts

ppt_seal01

With Thanksgiving and Christmas around the bend, you may be one of the thousands of people who will consider purchasing a treadmill to shed unwanted pounds. Before adding an exercise apparatus to your shopping list, consider how many buy a treadmill and use it for a short time only. Soon the expensive equipment gathers dust and holds clothes in the corner.

You may be giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not being built up.

I Corinthians 14:17

When gifts aren’t used properly, they don’t produce the desired results. In today’s passage, Paul speaks of different kinds of gifts – spiritual ones. He reminds the church in Corinth how to “excel in building up the church” when using their gifts. (I Corinthians 14:12) While one may speak in tongues to give thanks to God, if no one can understand them, the gift is not serving its intended purpose to edify or teach the listener.

Each Christ follower has a special skill to glorify God and draw others to Him. While you may praise God with your words, are your gifts collecting dust in a corner? Ask God to help you use your given talents for His purpose, then pray for Christians in elected offices to use their gifts as they serve in government.

Recommended Reading: Romans 12:1-12

 

Max Lucado – What He Says He Will Do

Max Lucado

God will always be the same. No one else will. Companies follow pay raises with pink slips. Friends applaud you when you drive a classic and dismiss you when you drive a dud. Not God. God is always the same. James 4:1 says, with Him, “there is no variation or shadow due to change.”

Catch God in a bad mood? Won’t happen. Fear exhausting His grace? A sardine will swallow the Atlantic first. Think He’s given up on you? Wrong. Did He not make a promise to you?

God is not a human being, and He will not lie. He is not a human, and He does not change His mind. What He says He will do. What He promises will come true. His strength, truth, ways, and love never change.

Hebrews 13:8 declares “He is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

Trust him…what He says, He will do!

Greg Laurie – Change from the Inside Out

greglaurie

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit. —Titus 3:5

In the 1600s, author Matthew Mead published a great book called The Almost Christian Discovered in which wrote, “The outward change is often without the inward, though the inward change is never without the outward.”

People can go through the motions and not necessarily be Christians. You can pray and not necessarily be a Christian. You can be baptized and not necessarily be a Christian. To the best of your ability you can keep the Ten Commandments and not necessarily be a Christian. You can even believe that Jesus is coming back and not necessarily be a Christian.

People may even make visible changes in their lives and not necessarily be Christians. There was a rich young ruler who came to Jesus and said, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17).

Jesus told him, “You know the commandments,” and then He listed them.

The young man said, “Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth” (verse 20).

This guy was basically moral. He had kept the commandments to the best of his ability. Certainly he had broken them, but at least he tried. But then Jesus told him what to do, and he wouldn’t do it. He stopped short of Jesus.

It is not your works that make you saved. You put your faith in Christ, and then you will see the evidence in your life. While it is true that faith without works is dead (see James 2:20), it could be said that works without faith is also dead.

You may say, “Well, I went forward at a Harvest Crusade” or “I stood up and prayed a prayer.” That is good, but it doesn’t necessarily make you a Christian. There has to be a movement of your heart toward God.

 

Our Daily Bread — Traveling Companion

Our Daily Bread

Psalm 39

For I am a stranger with You, a sojourner, as all my fathers were. —Psalm 39:12

I looked up the members of my seminary graduating class recently and discovered that many of my friends are now deceased. It was a sober reminder of the brevity of life. Three score and ten, give or take a few years, and we’re gone (Ps. 90:10). Israel’s poet was right: We’re but strangers here and sojourners (39:12).

The brevity of life makes us think about our “end”—the measure of our days and how fleeting they are (v.4), a feeling that grows more certain as we draw closer to the end of our lives. This world is not our home; we’re but strangers and sojourners here.

Yet we are not alone on the journey. We are strangers and sojourners with God (39:12), a thought that makes the journey less troubling, less frightening, less worrisome. We pass through this world and into the next with a loving Father as our constant companion and guide. We’re strangers here on earth, but we are never alone on the journey (73:23-24). We have One who says, “I am with you always” (Matt. 28:20).

We may lose sight of father, mother, spouse, and friends, but we always know that God is walking beside us. An old saying puts it like this: “Good company on the road makes the way to seem lighter.” —David Roper

My times are in my Father’s hand;

How could I wish or ask for more?

For He who has my pathway planned

Will guide me till my journey’s o’er. —Fraser

As you travel life’s weary road, let Jesus lift your heavy load.

Bible in a year: Ezekiel 11-13; James 1

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Where Were You?

Ravi Z

As a young girl, one of my favorite games was hide and seek. Gathering all of our friends from the street on which we lived, we played this favorite childhood game that offered the entire neighborhood as a hiding place. The familiar call “Where are you?” echoed down the streets as the seeker looked far and wide to find our hiding places.

A cosmic game of hide and seek is often how many view the search for God. “Where are you?” is the question that echoes throughout the ages as human beings seek for God in a vast universe often filled with inexplicable mystery.

This is no trivial game. Atheist Bertrand Russell was once asked what he would say if after death he met God, to which he replied: “God, you gave us insufficient evidence.”(1) While those who have found God quite evident would balk at Russell’s impudence, it is helpful to remember that theists often wrestle with a similar struggle. Many of the biblical writers themselves have depicted God as hidden. “Why do you stand afar off, O Lord? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” (Psalms 10:1). Indeed, the psalmist accuses God of being “asleep” to his plaintive cries: “Arouse, yourself, why do you sleep, O Lord? Awake, and do not reject us forever. Why do you hide your face, and forget our affliction and our oppression?” (Psalm 44:23-24). Even blameless Job wondered aloud if in fact God viewed him as the enemy: “Why do you hide your face and consider me the enemy?” (Job 13:24). And from the place of his deepest suffering, Jesus himself cried out using the words of the poets of Israel, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Clearly, the hiddenness of God is problematic for theists and atheists alike. Indeed, the belief in a God who can be easily found, and who has acted in time and space, makes the experience of God’s hiddenness all the more poignant and perplexing.

“Where are you?” serves as one of the central questions in the acclaimed film by Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life. The film explores the paradoxical experience of both God’s astounding presence and God’s apparent absence. The questions concerning God’s whereabouts are posed by an adult man in the throes of a life-crisis resulting from family tragedy. Through a series of cinematic visions, the man reflects back on his life as his question “Where are you?” sounds a thematic refrain when tragic events ensue. It is this question that takes the man on a search for God, not only through recalling the events of his childhood in a small Texas town, but also as he contemplates the grandeur of the cosmos at the dawn of creation.

As the film begins, we hear the voice of this man’s, mother extolling a life of grace, as opposed to a life lived according to nature, for the self alone. To the oft-repeated question, “Where are you?” the film suggests God resides in this life of grace. The life that is grace-filled lives for others, revels in the beauty and wonder of the created world, and extends a gracious forgiveness toward others. It is this grace-filled life that the now adult Jack remembers as a clue to where God may be found. The gracious way in which his mother lived, and the way his younger brother extended forgiveness to the young Jack after he viciously shot him in the hand with a pellet gun provide the first hints for God’s hiding place. Jack recalls, “Brother, mother, it was they who led me to your door.” In these grace-filled human encounters, the doorway is opened to God’s dwelling place.

This gracious way is set in contrast to the way of nature, which competes and wrestles for control of Jack. The way of nature seeks to make its way in the world forcefully; its acquisitive nature clawing after worldly success, fortune, and power. It is a battle waged within every human being, and the film suggests that it is a path that leads one away from God; it is the way that hides us from God’s grace and God’s presence.

For indeed, the game of hide and seek is not one-sided. The film opens with a quotation from the book of Job: “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth…when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” A cinematic kaleidoscope of those foundations—from a one-celled organism to the galaxies beyond invites the viewer to see the gracious hand of God touching all that makes up the universe. From the dawn of time to, by contrast, this seemingly insignificant family living in 1950′s Waco, Texas, the film shimmers with God’s presence. We often fail to accept the invitation, the film suggests, as we succumb to the way of nature—a way that reduces one’s vision only to self-interest. But God’s glorious grace is all around us. Sometimes abundantly obvious, sometimes subtle, God’s gracious presence beckons to us in this world and in our relationships with one another. “Always did you seek me” Jack recognizes as he wrestles with his own propensity to hide. Always do you seek for us—we humans who play hide and seek—from the very foundation of the world.

Margaret Manning is a member of the speaking and writing team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Seattle, Washington.

(1) Cited in Dr. Paul K. Moser’s booklet Why Isn’t God More Obvious: Finding the God who Hides and Seeks (Norcross, GA: RZIM, 2000)1.

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Like a Sweet Perfume

dr_bright

“But thanks be to God! For through what Christ has done, He has triumphed over us so that now wherever we go He uses us to tell others about the Lord and to spread the Gospel like a sweet perfume” (2 Corinthians 2:14).

We can certainly learn a lesson from the apostle Paul. He frequently begins a chapter or a verse with a note of praise. To say that he had a thankful spirit would be understating the case. That perhaps is the key to victory in every area of our lives, to begin with thanksgiving.

It is God who leads us to triumph over principalities and powers. And in leading us to triumph, He is then able to use us to tell others of His love and forgiveness through the Lord Jesus. As we rest in His victory and in His command, with its promise of “Lo, I am with you always,” we spread the gospel like a sweet perfume.

In your own home and in your own neighborhood, perhaps, are those who need the sweet perfume of the gospel, that heavenly aroma that comes first from God, then through us as His servants, and finally in the message itself: the good news of sins forgiven and a heavenly home assured.

Around the world, literally, I personally have seen multitudes of men and women, old and young, become new creatures in Christ. The aroma indeed is one of sweet perfume, for tangled lives have become untangled to the glory of God, and joy abounds in hearts and lives where only sadness and despair had been known.

Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 2:14-17

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: “Dear Lord, help me to bear a heavenly aroma as I share the sweet perfume of the gospel with others.”

 

Our Daily Bread — Welcome Back

Our Daily Bread

Nehemiah 9:7-21

You are God, ready to pardon, gracious and merciful. —Nehemiah 9:17

Jim decided to follow Christ at the age of 10. Fifteen years later his commitment had faded. He had adopted a live-for-the-moment philosophy and developed some bad habits. Then his life seemed to fall apart. He had problems at work. Three family members died almost simultaneously. Fears and doubts began to plague Jim, and nothing seemed to help—until one day when he read Psalm 121:2, “My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.” These words cut through the fear and confusion in his heart. He turned back to God for help, and God welcomed him.

Jim’s spiritual journey reminds me of ancient Israel’s history. The Israelites had a unique relationship with God—they were His chosen people (Neh. 9:1-15). However, they spent many years rebelling and ignoring God’s goodness, turning away to follow their own path (vv.16-21). Yet when they returned to Him and repented, God was “ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abundant in kindness” (v.17).

These divine qualities encourage us to draw near to God—even after we have wandered away from Him. When we humbly abandon our rebellious ways and recommit ourselves to God’s ways, He will show compassion and welcome us back to closeness with Him. —Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling,

Calling for you and for me;

See on the portals He’s waiting and watching,

Watching for you and for me. —Thompson

God’s arms of welcome are always open.

Bible in a year: Ezekiel 8-10; Hebrews 13

Max Lucado – Accepting God as Your Father

Max Lucado

I can’t assure you your family will ever give you the blessing you seek, but God will! Let God give you what your family doesn’t.

How do you do that? By emotionally accepting God as your father. It’s one thing to accept Him as Lord, another to recognize Him as Savior, but another matter entirely to accept Him as Father.

To recognize God as Lord is to acknowledge that he is sovereign in the universe.

To accept Him as Savior is to accept His gift of salvation offered on the cross.

To regard Him as Father is to go a step further. Ideally, a father is the one in your life who provides and protects. That’s exactly what God has done!

God has proven Himself as a faithful father. Now, let God fill the void others have left. You’re His child and “God will give you the blessing He promised!” (Gal. 4:7).

From  The Lucado Inspirational Reader

Charles Stanley – When Temptation Knocks

Charles Stanley

What makes a person successful at resisting temptation? I believe the best way to discover how to overcome temptation is to look at the One who dealt with every temptation successfully and consistently. The writer of Hebrews wrote of Christ:

For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin (Heb. 4:15).

Since Jesus successfully overcame temptation, we would do well to study his strategy for dealing with it. Unfortunately, we have only one clear passage of Scripture describing Christ’s encounter with temptation. We know from the Hebrews passage cited above that He was tempted more often than this, but the Holy Spirit chose not to include these in the Gospels.

Strangely enough, Jesus’ approach is so straightforward and simple that many believers tend to overlook it entirely. Others, after hearing it, make the most ridiculous excuses as to why they can not follow His example.

What was His strategy? After 40 days of fasting in the desert, Jesus used Scripture, and only Scripture, to resist Satan’s temptation (Matt. 4:1-11). This is hard for me to comprehend. The Son of God—the One who knows all things and has the power to do all things, the One whose words we study, memorize, and meditate on—never made an original comment during the entire interaction.

He never drew on his own wit. He never even relied on His own power. He simply responded with the truth of God’s Word. That’s all it took. Nothing fancy. Just the plain truth directed at the deception behind each of Satan’s requests. Jesus verbally confronted Satan with the truth, and eventually Satan gave up and left.

There are four primary reasons why a well-chosen passage or verse of Scripture is so effective against temptation.

First of all, God’s Word exposes the sinfulness of what you are being tempted to do. One of Satan’s subtle snares is to convince you that sin is really not so bad after all. God’s Word allows you to see things for what they really are.

A second reason the Word of God is so effective against temptation is that you gain God’s viewpoint through it. Since many temptations carry a strong emotional punch, you tend to get caught up in your feelings. Once you identify with the feelings temptation evokes, it becomes increasingly difficult to respond correctly. The truth of Scripture allows you to separate yourself just far enough mentally to deal with it successfully.

Another reason for turning to God’s Word in times of temptation is what one pastor calls the principle of displacement.1 This principle is based on the premise that it is impossible not to think about a seductive topic unless you turn your attention elsewhere. When you turn your thoughts to the Word of God during temptation, you do just that (Phil. 4:8).

If you don’t shift your attention away from the temptation, you may begin some form of mental dialogue: I really shouldn’t. But I haven’t done this in a long time. I am really going to hate myself later. Why not? I’ve already blown it. I’ll do it just this once, and tomorrow I’ll start over. When you allow these little discussions to begin, you’re sunk. The longer you talk, the more time the temptation has to settle into your emotions and will.

The fourth reason the Word of God is so effective against temptation is that you are expressing faith when you turn your attention to His Word. You are saying, “I believe God is able to get me through this; I believe He is mightier than the power of sin, my flesh, and Satan himself.” Nothing moves God like the active faith of His people.

To effectively combat the onslaughts of the enemy, you need an arsenal of verses on the tip of your tongue. Verses so familiar that they come to mind without any conscious effort on your part. If you have to dig them up from the caverns of your memory, they will do you no good. There isn’t time for that in the midst of temptation.

Begin memorizing scriptures that address the area that troubles you the most. Quote them audibly when you are tempted. When you speak the truth out loud, it’s as if you have taken a stand with God against the enemy. When I do this, I often feel a sense of courage and conviction sweeping over me. Remember, if the perfect, sinless, sovereign Son of God relied on Scripture to pull Him through, what hope do you have without it?

1. Bud Palmberg, “Private Sins of Public Ministry,” Leadership magazine (Winter 1988)

Adapted from “Winning the War Within: Facing Trials, Temptations and Inner Struggles by Charles F. Stanley, 1988.

 

Our Daily Bread — Hero Over Sin

Our Daily Bread

1 John 1

Create in me a clean heart, O God. —Psalm 51:10

Not long ago, someone asked me a very tough question: “What is the longest you have gone without sinning? A week, a day, an hour?” How can we answer a question like that? If we’re truthful, we might say, “I can’t live a day without sinning.” Or if we look back over the past week, we might see that we haven’t confessed to God even one sin. But we would be fooling ourselves if we said we hadn’t sinned in our thoughts or actions for a week.

God knows our hearts and whether we’re sensitive to the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. If we really know ourselves, we take 1 John 1:8 to heart, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” We certainly don’t want verse 10 to be true of us, “If we say that we have not sinned, . . . His word is not in us.”

A more encouraging question to ask might be: “What is God’s response to our admission of sin and need for forgiveness?” The answer: “If we confess . . . , He is faithful and just to forgive us” (v.9). Jesus has taken our sin problem upon Himself by dying in our place and rising again. That’s why He can create in us “a clean heart” (Ps. 51:10). My young friend Jaydon is right when he says, “Jesus is the hero over our sins.” —Anne Cetas

No one can say he doesn’t need

Forgiveness for his sin,

For all must come to Christ by faith

To have new life within. —Branon

Christ’s forgiveness is the door to a new beginning.

Bible in a year: Ezekiel 5-7; Hebrews 12

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – His Great Love for Us

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“But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8).

A dear friend and Christian leader from another country hated and resented his father, who was an alcoholic. Through the years, my friends had been humiliated and embarrassed by his father’s conduct. He wanted nothing to do with him.

As he grew more and more mature in his faith, and the Christlike qualities began to develop in his life, he began to realize that his attitude toward his father was wrong. He knew well that God’s Word commanded him to love and honor his mother and father, with no conditions.

Then he began to comprehend and experience the truth of loving by faith after a message which he had heard me give. As a result, he went to his father and, as an act of the will, by faith – because at that point he did not honestly feel like doing so – he expressed his love.

He was amazed to discover that his father had been hurt for years because he had sensed that his son despised and rejected him.

When the son began to demonstrate love for him – to assure him that he cared for him, whether he drank or did not drink – it prompted the father to commit his life to Christ and to trust Him to help him overcome the problem which had plagued him most of his life.

Through this new relationship with the Lord, my friend’s father became a new creature and was able to gain victory over the addiction to alcohol several years before he died – a dramatic example of the power of love.

Bible Reading: Romans 5:9-15

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Knowing Christ’s great love for me, I will claim His supernatural love for others today

 

Joyce Meyer – Steps In The Right Direction

Joyce meyer

Let each one of us make it a practice to please (make happy) his neighbor for his good and for his true welfare, to edify him [to strengthen him and build him up spiritually].—Romans 15:1, 2

Today’s scripture give us great advice, but we usually do the opposite of what it advises us to do. We want others to live to make us happy and do what pleases us. The result is that no matter what people do, we are rarely happy and satisfied.

The ways of the world, which are focused on “self,” do not work and the condition our society is in today proves that. In general people are more selfish than ever; they are also more dissatisfied. God’s ways do work and His way is to genuinely love other people. If we do as He instructs we may make some sacrifices, but we will have a kind of joy that cannot be found anywhere except in the center of God’s will. We will also be obeying His great commandment, which is to love one another.

Will you be honest and ask yourself some questions that may be difficult to answer but will bring you face-to-face with where you are in the whole theme of loving other people? How much do you do for others? Are you trying to find out what people want and need so you can provide it for them? Are you sincerely trying to know the people in your life in a genuine way? How well do you really even know the people in your own family?

As I answered these questions a few years ago, I was appalled at the level of selfishness in my life even though I had been a Christian minister for many years. The bottom line was that I was selfish and self-centered and I needed to change. These changes did not come easily or quickly, neither are they completed, but as I press on daily I am making progress and I am happier all the time.

Love Others Today: How are you doing on your love walk? Take a few extra steps today.

 

 

Presidential Prayer Team; P.G.- Lifespan Look

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The final chapter of Romans lists special greetings from Paul to people who stood with him as he labored for the Lord. It’s easy in reading the Bible to just skip over passages like this, but each one of these individuals played a part in the development of God’s eternal kingdom. Paul acknowledged them and, across the centuries, their names have remained.

To whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well.

Romans 16:4

Look across the span of our own life. Who stood with you? Your fourth-grade teacher, a college professor, the neighbor who brought casseroles when you were ill? Or the Sunday school leader who influenced your decision for Christ, or your church’s pastoral staff who helped you keep your focus on the Lord?

Who have you come alongside in times of joy and sorrow, need and plenty? Maybe its family, friends, missionaries in fields near or far, homes for abused women and children…or even your Prayer Team.

Just as Paul gratefully recalled important people in his ministry, take a moment to give thanksgiving to the Lord for those He placed in your life. Then prayerfully come alongside the men and women who serve in America’s government, an often thankless job.

Recommended Reading: Romans 16:1-15

 

Greg Laurie – What Makes a Christian?

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And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. —2 Corinthians 11:26

I once went to a children’s ministry event at our church dressed up as Noah. No one knew it was me, which made the whole experience a lot of fun. I was pretending to be someone I really was not. I was playing a little game, actually.

There are people today who do the same thing with the Christian faith. They pretend to be something they really are not.

So how do we know whether someone is a Christian? “It comes down to what they believe,” we might say. There is truth to that, but that is not all there is to it. You can believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that He is the only way to God, and that He is coming back again and still not necessarily be a Christian. Now, if you are a Christian, you will believe what I just stated. But just because you believe that in and of itself doesn’t necessarily make you a Christian.

We may say, “Well, a Christian is judged by the way he or she behaves.” But that is not necessarily true. You can pray, keep the Ten Commandments to the best of your ability, attend church regularly, and even be baptized and not necessarily be a Christian. Those things should be a part of your life if you are a Christian. But those things, in and of themselves, don’t make you a Christian.

It is not enough to be exposed to the truth. You also need to act on it. You need to make a choice. It means recognizing that you have sinned (see Romans 3:23), turning away from your sins, and trusting in and receiving Jesus Christ into your life as your Lord and Savior. That is what makes you a Christian.

Have you made this choice? If you are not sure, please click here

 

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Too Good to Be True

Ravi Z

You may have heard it said that religion only survives because people desperately want it to be true, because they can’t come to terms with their own mortality (or that of loved ones). It was Sigmund Freud who helped to popularize this idea, as he suggested that the concept of a loving Creator was simply a psychological projection of a person’s innermost wishes:

“We tell ourselves that it would be very nice if there was a God who created the world and was a benevolent Providence and if there were a moral order in the universe and an after-life; but it is the very striking fact that all this is exactly as we are bound to wish it to be.”(1)

This kind of argument would seem to ring true, at least on a superficial level. You would expect it to be more likely for people to believe in something that they like than something that they don’t, and it is clear that Christianity is powerfully compelling. In fact, the argument itself is an admission of this, as it acknowledges the innate desire in us all that is fulfilled by God. Who wouldn’t want to be in a relationship with a loving deity who not only wants the best for those he has created, but who is offering eternity in a place that is more wonderful than can be imagined? Yet the Bible also contains some very hard-hitting passages, which would seem to contradict the notion that religious belief is simply a projection of our wishes. C. S. Lewis pointed out that scripture also teaches that believers should fear the Lord, but you would not then suggest that this meant faith was some kind of “fear fulfillment”!(2)

The problem with the argument is that it cuts both ways. If you suggest that people only believe because they want it to be true, then the counter-claim is that atheists are only non-believers because they don’t want it to be true. Some people have expressly stated this, such as Aldous Huxley who wrote:

“For myself, as, no doubt, for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation. The liberation we desired was simultaneously liberation from a certain political and economic system and liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom; we objected to the political and economic system because it was unjust.”(3)

As Czeslaw Milosz points out, this is a negative wish-fulfillment, because “A true opium of the people is a belief in nothingness after death—the huge solace of thinking that for our betrayals, greed, cowardice, murders, we are not going to be judged.”(4)

The problem with these types of argument is that, as Manfred Lutz points out, Freud can provide an equally compelling reason for why someone might believe as to why they might disbelieve. Yet, crucially, when it comes to discerning the all-important matter of which position is actually true, he cannot help us.(5) As this suggests, just because you want to believe in something does not mean that it is true.

What is interesting about the Christian faith is that the intellectual arguments for God are backed up with a reality that can be personally experienced. There are countless examples of people who discover a life-changing faith even though they were once hostile to the idea of it. This may sound too good to be true, but this is something that is within everyone’s reach. The final word should perhaps go to the Victorian pastor William Haslam, whose conversion experience in 1851 has to rank as one of the best—not to mention funniest—examples of someone encountering God when they least expected it. The transformation was as dramatic as it was real, and it resulted in an outpouring of joy that he had never felt before:

“So I went up into the pulpit and gave out my text. I took it from the gospel of the day—’What think ye of Christ?’ As I went on to explain the passage, I saw that the Pharisees and scribes did not know that Christ was the Son of God, or that He was come to save them. They were looking for a king, the son of David, to reign over them as they were. Something was telling me, all the time, ‘You are no better than the Pharisees yourself—you do not believe that He is the Son of God, and that He is come to save you, any more than they did.’ I do not remember all I said, but I felt a wonderful light and joy coming into my soul, and I was beginning to see what the Pharisees did not. Whether it was something in my words, or my manner, or my look, I know not; but all of a sudden a local preacher, who happened to be in the congregation, stood up, and putting up his arms, shouted in a Cornish manner, ‘The parson is converted! The parson is converted! Hallelujah!’ and in another moment his voice was lost in the shouts and praises of three or four hundred of the congregation. Instead of rebuking this extraordinary ‘brawling,’ as I should have done in a former time, I joined in the outburst of praise, and to make it more orderly, I gave out the Doxology—’Praise God, from whom all blessings flow’—and the people sang it with heart and voice, over and over again. My Churchmen were dismayed, and many of them fled precipitately from the place. Still the voice of praise went on, and was swelled by numbers of passers-by, who came into the church, greatly surprised to hear and see what was going on. When this subsided, I found at least twenty people crying for mercy, whose voices had not been heard in the excitement and noise of thanksgiving. They all professed to find peace and joy in believing. Amongst this number there were three from my own house; and we returned home praising God. The news spread in all directions that ‘the parson was converted,’ and that by his own sermon, in his own pulpit too…. So clear and vivid was the conviction through which I passed, and so distinct was the light into which the Lord had brought me, that I knew and was sure that He had ‘brought me up out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a Rock, and put a new song into my mouth.’ He had ‘quickened’ me, who was before ‘dead in trespasses and sins.’… At the end of this great and eventful day of my life—my spiritual birthday, on which I passed from death to life by being “born from above”—I could scarcely sleep for joy.(6)

Simon Wenham is research coordinator for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Europe.

(1) S. Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents (New York, 1962), 21, in A. McGrath, Mere Apologetics (Grand Rapids, 2012), 167.

(2) C. S. Lewis, The World’s Last Night: And Other Essays (New York, 2022), 19.

(3) R. S. Baker and J. Sexton (eds.), Aldous Huxley Complete Essays, iv (Lanham, 2001), 369.

(4) C. Milosz, “The Discrete Charm of Nihilism”, in J. C. Lennox, Gunning for God (Oxford, 2011), 47.

(5) M. Lutz, God: A Brief History of the Greater One (Munich, 2007), in Lennox, Gunning, 46.

(6) W. Haslam, From Death Unto Life: Twenty Years of Ministry (Teddington, 2006), 42.